Seniors' anger over health reform could affect outcome of midterm elections

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Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL)
Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL)

Frustration over healthcare reform's Medicare cuts is driving seniors to vote and even campaign for politicians opposed to the Obama administration's Medicare cuts, according to news reports.

The reform bill cuts $500 billion from Medicare, although candidates running in midterm elections disagree over what these cuts mean. Some senior citizens and Republican candidates believe the government is gutting Medicare by $500 billion. Democratic candidates say the law will save the government $533 billion over the first 10 years it's in effect. Medicare spending is expected to grow annually at a rate of 5.5%, according to Congressional Budget Office data.

Republicans say they are defending Medicare, a campaign stance that plays well with seniors. Democratic candidates, such as House incumbent Rep. Debbie Halvorson (IL) who voted in favor of Medicare cuts, is facing strong opposition from the Republican candidate Adam Kinzinger. In defense, Halvorson is accusing Kinzinger of wanting to privatize Social Security and planning to raise the retirement age.

As a result of the Medicare confusion, some seniors are having surgeries earlier, rather than waiting for Medicare to kick in, which they now fear it never will, Kaiser Health News reported.

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